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Breaking security controls using subdomain hijacking

Users obtain a domain name to establish a unique identity on the Internet. Domain names are not only used to serve names and addresses of computers and services but also to store security controls, such as SPF or CAA records. Many of the Internet protocols were designed at a time where built-in security was not a requirement. The IETF continues to standardize protocol extensions to address today’s security needs.

For some protocols security is added with controls stored in your domain names zone file. In order to have the desired effect, the pre-condition is of course that your domain name is secure. In other words, the security of your application that makes use of controls in DNS is only as secure as the security of your domain name.

Hijacking a domain name because of weak credentials at the registrar may get the job done but this is far from stealthy and will likely not last long. In many cases it is sufficient to hijack an abandoned subdomain. Taking over abandoned subdomains may be unnoticed by the owner for a very long period of time making it also very useful for targeted attacks.

Picture 1: update.ft.com has been hijacked and the content from the ft.com front page is mirrored with a fake article about subdomain hijacking. Note: the website is not online anymore, Financial Times has been notified to remove the abandoned record from their zone file. A Certificate Transparency (CT) log proves that a TLS certificate has been issued for this demo site.

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A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our bi-monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Attack of the digital dolphins: hacking Alexa, Siri and their friends via ultrasound
  • The anti-antivirus programme: US government bans agencies from installing Kaspersky software on their computers
  • A hack of ‘epic proportions’ at Equifax
  • Science fiction 4.0 – how to hack a computer with a drop of saliva

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.


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11th October 2017, DNSSEC key rollover of the root zone, be ready the key is here!

On the 27th September, ICANN announced the postponement for the KSK rollover. More information can be found here.

No, this is not a kind of secret message nor a new ice-cream. On 11th October 2017 the root zone will be signed with a new key. Ladies and gentlemen, update your DNS resolver. As of July 11th, the new key is published in the root zone and your resolver should start updating its trust anchors automatically!

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94 .ch & .li domain names hijacked and used for drive-by

A Swiss domain holder called us today telling us that the .ch zone points to the wrong name servers for his domain.

The NS entries were ns1.dnshost[.]ga and ns2.dnshost[.]ga. We contacted the registrar and soon realized that this is not the only domain that had unauthorized changes. We identified 93 additional .ch and .li domain names that pointed to the two rogue name servers. While domain hijacking by pointing to a rogue NS is a known attack,  94 domains on a single day is very unusual. So we analyzed what the hijacked domains were used for and soon found out that they are used to infect internet users with malware.

Visitors to the hijacked domains were redirected to the Keitaro TDS (traffic distribution system):

hXXp://46.183.219[.]227/VWcjj6

A TDS decides where to redirect the visitor to, often depending on its IP address (i.e. country),
user agent and operating system.

A dead end may look like the following:

hXXp//46.183.219[.]227/favicon.ico
hXXp://46.183.219[.]227/www.bingo.com

And the visitor will be redirected to Google.

However, in some cases, the visitor is redirected to the Rig Exploit Kit:

hXXp://188.225.87[.]223/?doctor&news=...&;money=...&cars=236&medicine=3848
hXXp://188.225.87[.]223/?health&news=...
...

And the visitor gets infected.

The payload is Neutrino Bot:

MD5: a32f3d0a71a16a461ad94c5bee695988
SHA256: 492081097c78d784be3996d3b823a660f52e0632410ffb2a2a225bd1ec60973d).

It gets in touch with its command and control server and grabs additional modules:

hXXp://poer23[.]tk/tasks.php
hXXp://poer23[.]tk/modules/nn_grabber_x32.dll
hXXp://poer23[.]tk/modules/nn_grabber_x64.dll

A little later, it also gets an update

hXXp//www.araop[.]tk/test.exe

MD5: 7c2864ce7aa0fff3f53fa191c2e63b59
SHA256: c1d60c9fff65bbd0e3156a249ad91873f1719986945f50759b3479a258969b38)

Status

The rogue NS were inserted in the .ch zone file at around 13:00 today. The registrar discovered soon what happened and rolled back the unauthorized changes. At 16:00 all of the changes in the .ch & .li zone were reverted and the NS records pointed to the legitimate name servers again.

[Update 10.7.17 17:15]

Gandi the registrar of the 94 domain names has written a blog post, as well as SCRT the domain holder that initially informed us about the domain name hijacking of scrt.ch. SCRT also showed how Strict Transport Security protected their recurring visitors from being redirected to the bogus website!


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A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our bi-monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Plenty of tears as WannaCry encrypts unpatched systems
  • WannaCry’s siblings from the NSA toolbox
  • Keyloggers fitted as standard – HP notebooks snooping on users
  • Hakuna Metadata – the browsing goldmine
  • Unboxed and hacked – new Samsung Galaxy S8 iris scanner

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.


A new issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our monthly SWITCH Security Report is available!

The topics covered in this report are:

  • Cybercriminals increasingly targeting Mac users
  • Malware fitted as standard for Android
  • Switzerland breaks taboo of Net neutrality for sake of CHF 320 million
  • Internet of Things toys spying on children of all ages

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.

 


The Jan/Feb 2017 issue of our SWITCH Security Report is available!

Dear Reader!

A new issue of our monthly SWITCH Security Report has just been released.

The topics covered in this report are:

  • The Guardian going post-truth with WhatsApp story?
  • Fruitfly spyware lives long on Macs
  • Good malware – FBI in absurdity trap
  • Star Wars on Twitter – sleeping Twitter botnet with over 350,000 bots discovered

The Security Report is available in both English and German.

»»  Download the english report.      »»  Download the german report.

Did you miss our previous Security Report? Click here to go to the archive.